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Uggla's first pinch HR lifts Braves over Reds

Photo by John Millikan

Photo by John Millikan

CINCINNATI -- Dan Uggla was a last resort for the Atlanta Braves.

He ended up having the game's biggest hit.

Uggla's first career pinch-hit home run lifted the Braves to a 6-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night. Uggla, who missed the last two starts with a strained left calf, batted with two outs in the ninth inning for reliever Jonny Venters (5-1) with Alex Gonzalez on second base. He lofted a 3-2 pitch from Nick Masset (1-4) 402 feet into the right-center field seats for the go-ahead runs.

"We weren't going to use Dan unless we had to," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We didn't want him to run the bases. That's the way to do it."

While the calf muscle has bothered him lately, Uggla also came into the game with a dismal batting average of .193.

"I could care less what my batting average is at the end of the season," Uggla said. "If I hit under .200, but drive in 80 or 90 runs, I'm fine with that. The first couple months was challenging, but my teammates kept picking me up. I have stayed positive and as long as Fredi keeps putting me out there, I'll do what I can to help this team. It was my first pinch-hit home run. It has not been my forte in my career."

Uggla's 18th homer of the season also extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games.

"Danny doesn't care about hitting streaks," Gonzalez said. "He only cares about winning."

Rookie Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 31st save, tying Billy Koch for fifth place in saves by rookies in a season. Koch also had 31 in 1999 for Toronto.

Scott Linebrink and Jonny Venters held the Reds until Uggla could come through.

"Our bullpen did a terrific job," Gonzalez said. "It was a good team win. We got a lot of good performances by a lot of guys."

The Reds still haven't won back-to-back games since sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game series June 13-15.

Atlanta starter Jair Jurrjens, who entered the game leading the majors with a 2.26 ERA and the National League with 12 wins, gave up just four hits in six innings -- but three were home runs. That tied the career high he set on July 3, 2008, at Pittsburgh. Jurrjens, allowed five home runs all season, gave up four runs and three walks with a season-high nine strikeouts, one short of his career high.

"Giving up four runs here is like giving up two somewhere else," Jurrjens said. "Every flyball has a chance here. You know that going in. You try to keep the ball down the best you can. I put myself in trouble."

Rookie shortstop Zach Cozart gave Cincinnati an early 1-0 lead with a 379-foot home run into the left-field seats with one out in the first inning, the second homer of his career.

The Braves needed only two pitches by Bronson Arroyo in the fourth inning to take the lead. Jason Heyward lined a 3-1 pitch 398 feet into the visitors' bullpen down the right-field line for his 11th homer of the season and second in two games. Brian McCann, the NL starting catcher in the All-Star game, hit the next pitch 415 feet into the right-field seats for his 17th homer.

The Reds have allowed back-to-back home runs eight times this season, three by Arroyo.

Gonzalez gave Atlanta a 3-1 lead in the sixth. After McCann led off with a walk and went to third on Eric Hinske's one-out double, Gonzalez blooped a single into short left-center field. McCann scored, but center fielder Drew Stubbs threw Hinske out at the plate.

The Reds used their own set of back-to-back home runs to regain the lead in the sixth. Joey Votto drew a one-out walk and Fred Lewis hit the first pitch 376 feet into the first row of the right-field seats. Stubbs followed on the next pitch with his 12th homer of the season and first since June 25 at Baltimore.

"When Lewis hit the ball, I was walking off the field," Jurrjens said. "The pitch was down. I hate to say it was a cheap home run."

The Braves tied it in the seventh on Martin Prado's 10th homer of the season, a 395-foot shot that appeared on television replays to glance off the left wrist of the leaping Stubbs and carom into the Reds' bullpen in left-center field. Stubbs threw his glove on the ground in frustration after the play.

The homer knocked Arroyo out of the game after 6 2-3 innings. He allowed four runs and nine hits with two walks and six strikeouts. He has allowed 29 home runs, which leads the majors and matches the total he allowed last season. He's allowed 31 home runs twice.

Notes: Reds RF Jay Bruce was scratched from the original starting lineup after suffering dizzy spells. He was scheduled to see a doctor. ... 3B Scott Rolen went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left elbow for the second time this season. IF Todd Frazier was recalled from Triple-A Louisville. ... RHP Jose Arredondo was activated from the disabled list. He'd been out since July 7 with a strained left forearm. LHP Jeremy Horse was optioned to Louisville. ... The gametime temperature was 93 degrees with a heat index of 102.